December 21st is the darkest day of the year.
As people who believe in a God who brings hope and joy, sometimes we like to avoid talking about dark days. We like to be optimistic and see God’s goodness in providence. We spout clichés to try to rid the world of its darkness.
The problem with such unrealistic optimism is that, well, it’s just not biblical. The Bible, both New and Old Testaments are heavy with sorrow, heartache, pain, suffering, and all manners of darkness. Our scripture has a whole book of Lamentations, for goodness sake. Mark paints Jesus as a suffering savior. In fact, all the gospels spend a disproportionate time on Jesus’ darkest days. They have Jesus, in the height of his career, proclaiming his demise. They have him crying tears of blood and screaming, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” They have his disciples persecuted and imprisoned. When we open our Bibles, we find darkness.
It seems to me, that in the face of such darkness, we should not ignore the pain, using smiles and clichés like aspirins. Such medications wear off quickly, and the root of our sorrow will lash out again.
So what are we to do?
We start with being honest with God. We are to remember that Jesus has been through the darkness of the soul and understands what it is like to feel forsaken by God. God understands what it is to lose a loved one…he lost his very own son at the hands of those he sent his son to help. He doesn’t consider our pain as something to brush off. It matters to him.
After we have given voice to our burdens, we then allow Jesus to carry them. Often times we can find ourselves allowing our wounds to stay open, when God is ready to heal us. Finding this balance is hard, but it is giving these burdens to God, that we find resurrection. Resurrection, the greatest joy there is, by its definition must follow death.
So, whatever darkness you are carrying this season, know you are not alone. And know there will come a day of resurrection, a day you will experience joy anew. December 21st is the darkest day precisely because the next day is a little brighter. Darkness may stay longer than we wish, and it may disappear slower than the sunrise on December 22nd, but God is with us, and resurrection is coming.